Big Ten spring game wrap-ups

8 Comments

Some news, notes, quotes and other assorted tidbits from the three spring games contested across the Big Ten Saturday afternoon…

MICHIGAN STATE
To say that the Spartans’ quarterbacks struggled somewhat during today’s spring game would be an understatement of mammoth proportions.

MSU quarterbacks combined to go 22 of 53 for 386 yards, two touchdown and two interceptions.  Last year’s starter and presumptive front-runner for the job this season, Andrew Maxwell, completed just nine of his 20 attempts for 120 yards and the game-winning touchdown pass.  The strong-armed Connor Cook, who has gained some ground on Maxwell this spring, threw for 217 yards and a scoring toss but also completed less than 40 percent of his passes (10-26).  Redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor completed five of six passes — three to his offensive teammates, two to his defensive teammates.

All in all, it was rough outing at a position where the Spartans may have more questions exiting spring than they did entering it.

Head coach Mark Dantonio said that the incumbent would top the depth chart entering summer, but stopped short of anointing him as the season-opening starter.

“I think you leave here at the end of spring saying that (Andrew) Maxwell comes into the summer camp number one based on knowledge and consistency in terms of performance.”

For his part, Maxwell feels as if he’s done enough to retain the job.

“I feel like I’ve done everything that I could do to make my case to the coaches to be the guy, and I feel like every day I came out and got better,” the player said. “I took a competitive mindset to every practice, and the ultimate decision is with Coach D.”

— The Spartans’ defense accounted for two touchdowns in the Green team’s 24-17 win over the White squad: a Chris Laneaux 25-yard interception return and a fumble recovery by Kyler Elsworth that was returned 41 yards.  On the other side of the ball, Aaron Burbridge caught five passes for 113 yards.

— Former MSU quarterback great Kirk Cousins, now Robert Griffin III‘s backup in Washington, returned to the East Lansing campus as color analyst for the Big Ten Network’s coverage of the game.  Based on Cousins’ comments, it doesn’t appear this will be his last rodeo in the booth.

“I want the football thing to last as long as it possibly can, but at the same time, in the offseason it makes a lot of sense to pursue other opportunities and prepare yourself for whenever football ends,” Cousins said. “And that’s why I’m here today, and it’s just a bonus I get to be back in familiar territory, watching the team that I love.”

— One of the coolest parts of the Spartans’ spring game was their helmets.  Specifically, the stickers on the back of the helmets honoring those who were killed or injured by the bombings at last Monday’s Boston Marathon.  Very classy gesture:

Michigan State Helmets

PENN STATE
If you were an individual looking for some clarity at the quarterback position coming out of the Nittany Lions’ spring game, you are likely somewhat disappointed at this point in time.

Following the game, head coach Bill O’Brien stated very firmly that neither Steven Bench nor Tyler Ferguson (pictured) had grabbed hold of the starting job and the competition would continue into the “voluntary” workouts and on into summer camp.  Both players completed nine of 15 passes, with Bench throwing for 99 yards and Ferguson 90.  Ferguson tossed two touchdown passes to Bench’s one.

As has been the case for most of the spring, the second-year coach was, for the most part, pleased with the duo’s performance.

“I thought they both (Bench and Ferguson) produced,” O’Brien said. “I thought both had some nice throws. Like everybody, coaches and players included, in every game you play, you wish you had some plays back. I’m sure they do too. I thought they both did some decent things out there today.”

In his post-game talk with reporters, O’Brien made it perfectly clear where the competition stands.

“I’d say, no, I’m not any closer as I sit here right now,” the coach said when asked about naming a starter. “Eventually, I’ll have to make a decision.”

O’Brien added that he will now go back and look at all of the spring practice tapes as they work toward naming a starter at the position.

The real competition, though, won’t begin until August; Christian Hackenberg, a five-star 2013 recruit rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in this year’s class, will join the competition this summer, with most expecting the Virginia product to make a very serious run at the starting job as a true freshman.

— In front of 28,000 or so fans who braved the rain and snow and cold, the the Blue team (defense) dropped the White squad (offense), 67-47.  It was the second straight year the defense has “won” the spring game.

A big reason for the defensive win?  The Nittany Lions’ defense accounted for nine sacks, which counted four points apiece in the scoring system utilized by O’Brien.

— Youth was certainly served for the Nittany Lions as the school noted that all six players who ran, caught or threw a touchdown will be a freshman or sophomore this season.  Both of the front-runners for the starting QB job will be sophomores.

— Another of the young ones was running back Akeel Lynch, who led all rushers with 83 yards on his 13 carries.

— “I feel terrible because I love that city,” O’Brien said of the tragic events in Boston this past week. “I grew up 20 minutes north of that city and my brother Tommy is heavily involved in that city and so is my older brother and my dad and my mom so I feel terrible for them. … Boston is a very resilient city and we caught him last night so that was good.”

WISCONSIN
At the end of Gary Andersen‘s first spring as the Badgers’ head coach, and in the midst of a crowded quarterback competition, it was UW’s defense winning most of the plaudits in Madison Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to the “unique” scoring systems that are all the rage during spring games, the final score appears to be a high-scoring offensive affair: Cardinal 61, White 47.  The former team consisted of the Badgers’ defense, the latter the offense.

The game wasn’t a true measure of either unit, however, as Andersen lamented afterwards that “[w]e’re basically missing six starters right now on the defensive side that didn’t play a snap today, and four or five on the offensive side.”

Also, the fact that the game was televised on the Big Ten Network led Andersen to keep his team’s cards very close to his vest.

“I will say this: Defense today was very vanilla. Offensively, we were very generic, and defensively, we were very generic,” the former Utah State head coach said. “We did throw the ball, bottom line, and we did catch the ball better than we have all spring, and that was very encouraging.”

— The Cardinal team totaled 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks in the game.  As those plays were worth two points apiece, the defense scored 36 of its 61 points off those two types of plays.  They also earned 24 points off of eight three-and-outs.

— As far as the quarterback battle goes, two players, Joel Stave and Curt Phillips, received the vast majority of the reps.  Stave completed 15 of his 20 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, while Phillips went 8-of-13 for 82 yards.  The other quarterbacks on the roster, including former Maryland Terrapin Danny O’Brien, attempted just three passes each.

— Running back Melvin Gordon, who will be charged with the task of replacing Montee Ball, ran for a team-high 74 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown on the ground.  He also added three catches for 35 yards.

— “Yeah, we’re in a good spot,” Andersen said when asked if his team is where he thought it’d be at the end of the spring.  “You’re never going to get everything you want. You’re never going to have it perfect. We wanted consistency. I think we got that. We wanted effort. I think we got that.”

Toledo head coach Jason Candle ‘heartbroken’ over shooting death of DL Jahneil Douglas

Toledo football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Toledo football is responding to the tragic passing of one of its own.

According to reports coming out of the area overnight, a man was shot dead following an argument outside of a pizza joint.  It was subsequently confirmed that the victim is Rockets defensive lineman Jahneil Douglas.

“The University and all of Rocket Nation mourn the death of junior football player Jahneil Douglas, who was shot in an incident in Toledo last night,” UT’s athletic department wrote in a tweet.

Subsequent to that, Toledo head coach Jason Candle issued his own statement on the 22-year-old Douglas’ death.

“The Toledo football family is heartbroken by the loss of Jahneil,” the fifth-year coach wrote. “He was a bright and hard-working young man who was loved by all his teammates and coaches. Our sincerest condolences go out to Jahneil’s family and friends during these difficult times. Jahneil will forever be a part of the Rocket football family.”

Douglas was a two-star member of the Toledo’s Class of 2018.  The 6-3, 300-pound lineman played his high school football in the city of Toledo.  On the 247Sports.com composite, Douglas was rated as the No. 116 player in the state of Ohio regardless of position.

As a true freshman, Douglas appeared in five games.  This past season, Douglas played in seven.  He was credited with a pair of tackles in those appearances.

Colorado WR La’Vontae Shenault arrested on three charges, including DUI

Colorado football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Laviska Shenault may be gone from Colorado football, but the surname lives on in the headlines. Unfortunately, for all of the wrong reasons. But, still.

In December, and as expected, Shenault announced in early December that he would be leaving the Colorado football team early for the 2020 NFL Draft.  The star wide receiver’s brother, La’Vontae Shenault, though, is a redshirt freshman at the same position for the Buffaloes.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Fort Collins Coloradoan has reported, La’Vontae Shenault was arrested on multiple charges in the city.  Included in that was a charge of suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.  The 19-year-old Colorado football player is also facing one count each of driving without headlamps at night and a drivers license violation.  All of those charges are misdemeanors, the newspaper noted.

As of yet, the Colorado football program has not commented on the off-field incident.

Shenault was a three-star member of the Class of 2019 for the Buffaloes.  He was rated as the No. 49 prospect regardless of position in the state of Texas.

As a true freshman, Shenault played in four games and dressed for seven.  The DeSoto, Tex., product didn’t record any statistics this past season.

Because he appeared in four games, he was permitted to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.

Toledo defensive lineman Jahneil Douglas killed in overnight shooting

Toledo football
Getty Images
3 Comments

UPDATED 10:05 a.m. ET: The athletic department at the University of Toledo has confirmed the passing of Jahneil Douglas.

“The University and all of Rocket Nation mourn the death of junior football player Jahneil Douglas, who was shot in an incident in Toledo last night.”

(The original post appears below.)

____________

Sadly, tragedy has struck the Toledo football program.

WTOL-TV in Toledo is reporting that one man was shot dead in the city very late Tuesday night.  The shooting occurred outside of a Gino’s Pizza and was the culmination of a fight between two individuals.

According to that television station’s sports director, Jordan Strack, Toledo football player Jahneil Douglas was the man killed in the shooting.  Thus far, there’s been no comment from the Rockets football program or head coach Jason Candle on the junior defensive lineman’s reported passing.

From the station’s report:

Police say casings were found scattered in the parking lot and at least one car was hit by gunfire.

The restaurant has video surveillance near where the shooting happened. There is no word on any arrests as of yet.

Douglas was a two-star member of the Toledo football Class of 2018.  The 6-3, 300-pound lineman played his high school football in the city of Toledo.  On the 247Sports.com composite, Douglas was rated as the No. 116 player in the state of Ohio regardless of position.

As a true freshman, Douglas appeared in five games.  This past season, Douglas played in seven.  He was credited with a pair of tackles in those appearances.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Douglas’ tragic passing.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Ohio State releasing its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations

college football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 8, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Urban Meyer to debut new podcast about leadership, culture, behavior
THE SYNOPSIS: For some reason, some readers thought this was a headline ripped from the pages of The Onion.  It wasn’t, though.  Seriously.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Vandy TE charged after landing drone in Fourth of July crowd
THE SYNOPSIS: College kids, y’all.  Dobbs went on to catch 15 passes for 136 yards in 2017 and 2018.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Oprah getting in on the Jerry Sandusky story with new interview
THE SYNOPSIS: As if the Penn State scandal wasn’t covered enough by college football scribes.  Two years after his sentencing, the Big O got in on the Sandusky scandal by interviewing the convicted pedophile’s oldest son.

2013

THE HEADLINE: LSU’s leading RB formally charged with simple battery
THE SYNOPSIS: From our post on Jeremy Hill declaring for the draft a year later:

In late April, Hill was arrested and (ultimately) charged with simple battery following a bar altercation.  A video of the incident subsequently surfaced, which showed Hill punching the victim and celebrating.  The attorney for Hill, who was suspended following the arrest but was reinstated prior to the opener, claimed that the physical altercation was preceded by the victim heckling his client over the player’s past.

That past came in 2011 as Hill was arrested on charges of oral sexual battery and later pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile, a misdemeanor.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Ohio State vacates 2010 wins, doesn’t self-impose bowl ban, scholarship losses
THE SYNOPSIS: OSU acknowledged unethical conduct on the part of former head coach Jim Tressel.  The NCAA ultimately banned the Buckeyes from appearing in a postseason game in 2012.  And Tressel was given a five-year show-cause.